New Innovation Award celebrates inspirational business achievements

  • Date

    Fri 23 Sep 22

Professor Chris Greer handing KTP Best Academic award to Professor Tracy Lawson

Five inspirational businesses have been shortlisted for a new Innovation of the Year Award, with the winner being announced at a special Celebration of Innovation at the University of Essex this month.

The event, at the University’s Colchester Campus, will also feature six annual awards recognising business partnerships which connect with the University’s outstanding academic research to achieve transformational innovation.

The new Innovation of the Year Award was open to any business East Anglia or London, with five shortlisted companies from Essex, Suffolk and London chosen for developing an outstanding business solution.

The shortlisted companies are:

N2S, Bury St Edmunds: The company has developed the world’s first sustainable ‘bioleaching’ solution which harnesses the power of bacteria to extract metals from printed circuit boards. These can then be re-used in digital hardware, providing a sustainable, zero pollution extraction method, which reduces pressure on mining for virgin materials.

Urban Electric Network, London: The business has developed the UEone retractable kerbside charging hub to solve the problem of overnight charging of electric vehicles for the 25% of drivers without off-street parking at home, a potential solution for ten million drivers in the UK alone. Retracting flush with the pavement to avoid obstruction, the smartphone operated hub connects easily to charging pits and can be replaced swiftly if it fails.

IRS, Colchester: Based in the University’s Innovation Centre, Knowledge Gateway IRS has developed the world’s first robotic food gripper which, using Artificial Intelligence (AI) vision recognition software, can pick and place a prepared food item, allowing sandwiches and frozen, chilled or heated meals to be assembled autonomously. This responds to the staffing crisis in the prepared food industry, which spends $200 billion on manual labour every year.

Healum, London: Healum has developed a cloud-based software system which connects healthcare professionals to patients via an app. The system is designed for healthcare providers delivering services to people with long-term conditions and will support personalised care and the management of population health across diverse communities.

Motilent, London: Motilent has developed the first tool to objectively assess the way the gut works based on MRI imaging, which is already being used in hospitals in Europe and the US. Motilent’s cloud-based medical image viewing and annotation platform gives users the ability to collaborate across different sites.

The award winner will be announced at the Celebration of Innovation on 29 September, which will feature a keynote speech on The Future of AI Innovation by Unilever’s Global Head of Digital and Partnerships, Alberto Prado.

Hosted by the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, Professor Chris Greer, the event will also see the presentation of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships Awards.
The University of Essex is the leading academic institution in the UK for active Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs), which link talented university researchers and academics with businesses to help them grow and develop new products and services. Fast becoming the partner of choice for innovative businesses in the East of England and London, Essex has 40 active KTPs with more than £10 million secured in funding to support their delivery.

Professor Chris Greer said: “Partnerships between universities and businesses are vital for innovation and economic growth. Universities like Essex are at the forefront of applying world-class research to real-world business challenges. Together we can develop effective and sustainable solutions which make the world a better place.”
KTP awards to be presented at the Celebration of Innovation are:

  • Best KTP Associate
  • Best Management KTP Associate
  • Best Partnership (SME)
  • Best Partnership (Large company)
  • Best Academic supporting a KTP
  • Lasting Impact Award

The event will also feature a showcase of Essex research, presentations about funding opportunities from Richard Lamb of Innovate UK and from Dr Nicola Thorn, CEO of AND Technology Research, about the value of research and development-led partnerships.

Find out more about working with academics at the University of Essex at